Has Wiki Failed

I ask this question once again, in light of the recent conflict.

Has wiki failed? The concept of wiki was to be a tool whereby individuals could come together and collectively work on a document (presumably solve problems, share ideas, and collect knowledge). Nice idea, but...

A document is an editorial piece, and will always reflect the ideals and agendas of the editor. This means, one editor, because every editor has her/his individual spin on the topic. When a document has multiple editors (this is different then sources of information, such as contributors) the result is chaos and conflict. This is especially true when a document/project does not have a definite time-line of completion. How much more so is this chaos and conflict when documents are always in a state of flux as on wiki?

Wiki may work as a tool for small work-groups that have a time constraint on producing a document under strict rules and guidelines, and where a final editor then drafts a document from all the contributions. Thus the final document reflects the editor's opinion and view at that time and under those circumstances, and this leaves little room for dispute. Maybe, no guarantee.

It has long been argued by a certain group that wiki is not a forum and that wiki is not a blog. In my opinion, this argument is wrong on both accounts, and very wrong at that. Why? Because, out of everyday chat and blogging arises new ideas and discoveries that can be explored and expanded on and turned into enlightening documents.

I feel that wiki has been broken and ill for some time now, and is very stagnant.

So FixYourWiki. Contribute some new material, start some OnTopic pages, and do some productive gnoming. Rather than complain about what you feel Wiki has become, help turn it into what you feel it should be. If it's stagnant, take responsibility for helping to make it non-stagnant. Otherwise, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Hear, hear!

in light of the recent conflict - what conflict? I didn't notice anything... --PhlIp

(Note to the silent majority who don't "get" my joke: Please don't try to tell me about the conflict. I'm sure something, as usual, happened. Please reflect on whether Wiki could work, for me, even where others perceive some issue or conflict. So maybe Wiki Works...)

The fact that you didn't notice anything is a testament to the fact that Wiki works. Some people just don't seem to understand that RecentChangesIsNotTheWiki.

Discussion following the double-line divider above is from February 2006.

Unfortunately, the current state of the wikidom is a state of failure. Let's hope that it's not permanent. I'll elaborate later. -- CostinCozianu

Except I don't think the current state of wikidom is failure. The state of this Wiki is failure, but that's only because it's already succeeded (twice!). Other Wikis like Wikipedia - or all the various little organization-based Wikis - are very successful.

Problem is, there's currently no purpose for this Wiki. It used to be about collecting DesignPatterns, and performed well at that, except now most of the obvious patterns have been catalogued and research on more esoteric ones has shifted to academic/industrial research. Then it was about codifying ExtremeProgramming, but now many of the companies that were interested in XP have already tried it, have their own mailing lists, and are too busy doing it to talk about it. Now all that's left are various crackpot theories, clashes of egos, incessant meta-discussions, and so on... the normal fare once the sense of shared purpose leaves.

I think there's lots of interesting stuff going on in the computer field, but for various reasons, none of it gelled around this Wiki. Most programming language discussion has moved to LambdaTheUltimate and LlDiscuss?, along with various language-specific projects like the TunesProject, HaskellWiki, ErlangWiki, BooLanguage, ScalaLanguage, etc. Most XP stuff is now on the XP mailing list. The Web2.0, emerging entrepreneurial atmosphere has centered around the blogosphere, particularly PaulGraham, JoelOnSoftware and Reddit. There're dozens of other computer-science sub-cliques.

I've got a rather simple and drastic solution: eliminate RecentChanges. That'd shift the focus of this Wiki back from spewing out new content to improving the old content. It'd make it unattractive to people who just want to spout off their crackpot ideas, or showcase their enormous egos. It'd still preserve the "If you see a problem, fix it" ethos that makes Wikis so successful.

-- JonathanTang

For what it's worth, I agree with you. See also: RecentChangesConsideredHarmful. In MobiWiki, there deliberately is no RecentChanges, primarily to discourage "conversation", although of course, there are differing points of view on this. --AndyPierce

LtU is notoriously sterile in producing quality content that is useful to readers (would that be LambdaReader??). I have the RSS feed because I occasionally find out a few links from there. But the "content threads" (including the ones involving our very own engineer_scotty) are typically beyond redemption. Which is fine for somebody looking after a social club and occasionally finding out new stuff, but it just cannot be competing with wikis by design.

Discussion about WikiPedia moved there.

To my mind, the essence of wiki is the idea that FromFertilizerComeFlowers. WardsWiki retains plenty of signal and plenty of noise. There are a few people here who have been here long enough to simply regard this as the normal state of affairs. Richard and Costin exist in that twilight zone between the downright antisocial and the socially accountable. They often contribute signal. Their noise may or may not counterbalance that. But wiki, as a process, seems to take that in its stride. Whether they generate more daisies than coproliths isn't really the point. When wiki is no longer interesting enough to evolve, it may be said to have failed. Until then, love it or leave it. -- Pete
In my view, this Wiki is now extraordinarily hostile to technical discussion of any innovative ideas. We've lost our civility and with it my willingness to contribute technical ideas or discussion. Innovative ideas are nearly always half-baked, full of holes, and easily ridiculed. Perhaps our community will someday rediscover the benefit of seeking value and nuggets of cool things in a collaborative, rather than hostile, social environment. -- TomStambaugh

The flip side of this is that many people proposing the innovative ideas seem to immediately assume that skeptics are idiots if they don't immediately understand said innovative ideas. Just as new ideas are nearly always half-baked and full-of-holes, they're nearly always met with wild incomprehension. A little more patience for people that honestly are trying to understand would go a long way.

Informational questions from people who honestly are trying to understand new ideas is not what I mean by hostility. I'm talking about the barrage of insults, ridicule, contempt, and scorn that is regretfully so common here now. -- TomStambaugh

One of the things I really like about LtU is that expressions of disbelief or befuddlement are usually met with a short explanation, or at least some links to a few papers. This community was like that in its earlier years. It is, sadly, not like that now. ts A little more AssumeGoodFaith on both sides would go a long way. -- JonathanTang


I think wiki should adopt a code of behavior, and content which does not follow it should be cleaned up. If it is signed content, a marker should be left to indicate the cleanup. It should generally target the more extreme content rather than try to micromanage style. Blatant insults should be removed. If you disagree, just simply say so without attacking the other person personally. (Then again, some feel it is their "duty" to "punish" those with content they see as bad. They don't care about social harmony.)

Another issue is that there will never be a consensus on what "good" content is. Thus, rather than try to find one, let's instead try to find better ways to classify or mark content so that people can find content that fits what they want to find. This is my WikiFilterist viewpoint sticking out, but I feel the alternative is EditWars and mayhem.

-- top

See also WhyWikiWorksNot, ImminentDeathOfWikiPredicted, WikiIsDead, WikiChangeProposal, ChangeTheCommunity, etc., etc.

FebruaryZeroSix JuneZeroSix

EditText of this page (last edited November 22, 2010) or FindPage with title or text search